OpenAI has faced a growing revolt among staff and investors, calling for the resignations of three directors after a botched boardroom coup ousted chief executive Sam Altman of the world’s leading AI company. ‘artificial intelligence.

Employees said in a letter to the board that administrators “damaged our mission and our company” by firing Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman on Friday. The number of signatures had risen to about 700 among OpenAI’s 770 employees as of Monday afternoon, according to employees posted on social networking site X. OpenAI did not respond to confirm that figure.

The turmoil at the world’s hottest AI startup marked a stunning reversal for a group that catapulted generative AI into the mainstream with the launch of ChatGPT nearly a year ago . Until last week, OpenAI was considered the global leader in the development and commercialization of this technology that is disrupting businesses around the world. Today, its very future is in question.

After failed negotiations Sunday to reinstate Altman, during which he demanded resignation from the board as the price for his return, OpenAI’s board instead turned to Emmett Shear, co-founder of the service of Twitch video streaming, as interim general manager. Microsoft, the software company that is also OpenAI’s largest investor, announced that it had hired Altman and Brockman to lead a new AI unit.

Altman said Monday that he expects OpenAI to endure and is working with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to secure the startup’s future.

Their top priority was ensuring that OpenAI continued to thrive, Altman posted on feasible”. It was “one team, one mission,” said the 38-year-old entrepreneur.

The hundreds of OpenAI employees who signed the letter said they had been offered positions in Microsoft’s new unit and would “take this action shortly unless all current board members “administration resigns and the board appoints two new independent lead directors.

Altman and Brockman were removed from their positions Friday by the four other board members. On Monday, one of the board members, Ilya Sutskever, aligned himself with the employees.

Sutskever, also chief scientist at OpenAI, signed the staff letter after the first turn to social networks to apologize for his role in Altman’s firing.

Read the open lettersigned by hundreds of OpenAI’s 770 employees

“I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions,” he wrote on X. “I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we have built together and will do everything I can to bring the company together.

The other remaining directors are Adam D’Angelo, Quora’s chief executive; tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley; and Helen Toner of the Center for Security and Emerging Technologies.

Some of OpenAI’s most prominent venture capitalists remained hopeful that Altman would return. The company’s board made a “serious miscalculation,” Vinod Khosla, an early supporter of OpenAI, wrote in a scathing op-ed in The Information on Monday. Khosla then called on Shear to resign on his first day as interim CEO.

“Every problem has a solution,” Josh Kushner, founder of Thrive Capital, wrote on future. The sale, a chance for staff to cash in on OpenAI’s success by selling to investors, is expected to involve up to $1 billion in stock and give the company a valuation of $86 billion, people said. people who know the projects.

The stock sale was now in play, with the weekend drama representing a significant change in circumstances, but it could still go ahead as planned if Altman returns, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Competitors, meanwhile, are seeking to capitalize on the disarray within the company. In a social media post on Monday, Marc Benioff, chief executive of software company Salesforce, asked OpenAI researchers to send him their CVs and offered to match their salaries.

OpenAI’s release of its chatbot ChatGPT a year ago sparked an AI boom that has attracted billions of dollars in investment and spawned dozens of start-ups.

ChatGPT uses what’s called generative AI to respond to text, voice or image prompts – a technological leap considered by many in Silicon Valley to be the most significant since the advent of the smartphone.

The exact reason for Altman’s ouster remains unclear, with OpenAI’s board saying only that he had not been “always candid.”

According to people familiar with the matter, his departure stems from concerns about his commitment to OpenAI’s mission of ensuring safe and beneficial AI.

A person with direct knowledge of the board’s decision said it had become “impossible to supervise” the co-founder. “The board reached the point where they couldn’t believe what Sam was telling them,” this person added.

Shear, who has publicly called for a slower deployment of AI, tried to quell reports that a dispute over security was part of the debate. “The board *did not* terminate Sam due to a specific disagreement over security,” he wrote about. “I’m not crazy enough to take this position without the support of the board to bring our great designs to market. »

Shear wrote that he would hire an independent investigator to report on “the entire process leading up to this point” and that he could push for “significant governance changes if necessary.”

Nadella said his company remains committed to its partnership with OpenAI and looks forward to “getting to know and working with Emmett Shear and the new OpenAI leadership team.”

Microsoft has committed more than $10 billion in capital and infrastructure credits to OpenAI – although not all of that capital has been used – and has integrated OpenAI’s powerful generative AI tools into its own software.

Microsoft shares closed at a record high Monday after rising 2.1 percent, reversing Friday’s losses following news of Altman’s firing.

Altman told the Financial Times this month that he planned to raise new investments from the Seattle group, saying he had a “great partner” in Microsoft.

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